Educators openly expressed irritation with reform proposals contained in a state-prepared report - proposals they claimed are unhelpful, insulting and represent a power-grab by the Utah State School Board of Education.
"From this document, local boards become wards of the state," said Leon Pexton, Juab School District Board of Education president, on Wednesday."It irritates me to the very soul," said Barbara Weeks, vice chairwoman of the board, "that the state works constantly to get everything under their control. We don't have to Mickey Mouse around with this. Our programs speak for themselves. This is a waste of the taxpayers' money."
But Neola Brown of the state board said the report was not an attempt to assert state hegemony over the districts.
"I had the same feeling" when reading the document, she said, "but I was assured that was not the intent."
Brown asked local board members for their reaction to the report, "A Shift in Focus," prepared by the Strategic Planning Commission which was appointed in mid-1987. The report represents over a year and a half of planning.
But she may have gotten more than she bargained for as Juab District officials harshly criticized the report.
"This document is very insulting," said Weeks. "We are already beyond this in Juab County."
District teachers are on the cutting edge in educational reform already, said Superintendent Kirk Wright. When local people read "A Shift in Focus," they were not impressed, he said.
"We are doing this already," said Pexton.
"When we attended the National School Board Convention, one of the things we learned is how the better half lives. Some districts have $7,000 to $9,000 per student to spend for education." Rural schools in Utah have approximately $2,000 per student but still manage to provide excellent education, he said.
Brown said the report was not intended to break new ground but rather was to formalize the best of what's already being done in Utah schools. And some of the best teaching is being done in rural schools, she said.